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Triumph Speed Twin Pictures

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    The Triumph Speed Twin is a classic British motorcycle. It was the first really successful twin, and it served as the benchmark for future twins, and as the reason the Norton Commando was developed - which was also a vertical twin. It was produced by Triumph, at their Coventry factory. It saw production from 1938 to 1940, and from 1947 to 1959.

    The Triumph Speed Twin 5T

    The 5T was introduced in 1937, at the National Motorcycle Show in the UK. Designed by Edward Turner, Triumph's Chief Designer and Managing Director, the 500cc parallel twin was not something new to the British motorcycling industry.

    What gave it the edge over its competitors with similar engine layouts, was the relatively low weight of the bike as a whole, due to the light frame design. This improved speed, performance and handling. The Triumph Speed Twin could produce 27bhp at 6,300 RPM. The torque characteristics of the Speed Twin made it a superior racer to contemporary motorcycles.

    The weight was less than that of similar bikes with single cylinders, and the twin cylinders gave better performance for racing, specifically when it came to low-end torque.

    The original design for the one piece iron cylinder was altered. Instead of being secured by only six studs, it was changed to eight studs. This eliminated problems with inherent weakness.

    Triumph Single Cylinder Influences

    Many of the characteristic parts and features from earlier model Triumph singles cylinder motorcycles, ended up in the Triumph Speed Twin. The rigid frame, the Amal Type 6 carburettor, the clutch, and the transmission, can all be traced back to earlier singles.

    Originally, the Speed Twin had girder forks and the only source of riding comfort and suspension for the rider, was from the sprung seat.

    Destruction of the Coventry Triumph Factory

    World War 2 saw the Triumph factory hard at work producing 5T model motorcycles for use in the military. Thousands of models were on order, bur disaster struck on the night of November 14, 1940.

    During a German bombing raid on Coventry, most of the buildings in the middle of the city were hit and destroyed, including the Triumph factory. The factory was razed, and all the design specifications, technical drawings and plans were lost in the bombing.

    Triumph bike production started up again in 1946 in Meriden. The frames had telescopic forks and optional sprung rear hub suspension. The magneto and generator was replaced by the more modern battery with coil and alternator electrical system in 1953.

    The Triumph Speed Twin 5TA had a 'unit' engine and gearbox configuration. The 'bathtub' fairing shape was modified and eventually disappeared in 1966, which was the last year of production.

    The unit 500 engine was used in the Triumph Tiger 100 and in the Triumph Tiger Daytona models, which saw an end in production in 1973.

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